One could say the bus driver had a weird taste in music. One could say that about almost everybody else also. He loved old numbers with hard-to-follow lyrics and peppy beats. The kind one always recalls hearing the day before and spends the rest of the day humming to its imaginary beat, putting ill-fitting words onto its sick jigsaw puzzling joke of a words’ nest until it is too late to even give up.

His favourite in the mornings was Raat Baaki. As the bus exited Gita Mandir bus-adda and entered Sardar Bridge, he would start thumping the horn to the song’s beat, and as he passed the flower market abuzz with predawn sales, he would reach the second stanza. On low-traffic days, he would just skip to it anyway. Tea-and-biscuit-wallahs join him on the bridge, their cycle bells and chains on freewheels texturing the not-yet-morning into the tempest off the insides of a young one in love—not disillusioned enough, not cynical enough, not yet.

Then the wind carries the song over to Ellisbridge, onto Jamalpur and beyond, waking everything up into its embrace. The city wakes up in love, longing for the night to fall again.

It is by accident the first bittersweet glass of Sulaimani finds someone new to a city.

The ten-past-midnight cafe has a boarded up half-counter and a furlong-long menu up front, yellow ketchup bottles allover tabletopia and a dog or two writhing scripts on the floor, taking well punctuated turns. It is the kind of place where you find a stray grain off someone’s chicken-fried-rice on your plate of very honest chicken, or aloo paranthas wrapped around more aloo, and keep not looking at it with such exhausting deliberation you end up ordering another premature dish and drown it in nimboo paani. Then one goes up to the half-counter to ‘askforyourmenu’ and lets the shopkeeper concoct an acceptable version of the lemony beverage. One finds out the ‘tea’ part is the kind of affair wrapped in paper-bags, and continues to hold on to the glass until it gets awkward.